As the holidays draw near, travelers will no doubt find themselves dreading the thought of having to push through overcrowded airport terminals while vainly chasing their long-delayed flight. Thankfully, though, we’ve assembled a list of helpful tips that, with any luck, will ease your pain while on your next cross-country holiday trip. Mobile apps, smart spending options, and plain old planning and time management skills can all lead to a happier, or at least less miserable time at the airport.
1.) Stay Connected: If you’ve got a mobile device or computer on you, make good use of it to look up TSA wait times, airport maps, and similar travel data. Sign up for notifications about your flight, whether by email, text, or any other available method. That way, you can always know when your flight is delayed or canceled ahead of time. Even social media can be useful, as more and more airlines turn to Twitter as a direct way to engage with customers. And obviously, try to make sure you keep your devices charged so that all the above is possible; a portable battery is especially useful when you can’t afford to wait for an outlet.
2.) Be Flexible on Price: Sometimes the cheapest flight option is not always the best, especially during the holiday rush when economy seats get bought up the fastest. A sufficiently mobbed flight can sometimes result in quick “flash” sales on more expensive seats—often the last to be snapped up while everyone else is looking to save a buck. In some cases, it even becomes cheaper to fly first or business class, and having access to all the perks only sweetens the deal. It also pays to be aware of what airline you’re flying with, and how reliable they are or aren’t based on historical data. For this, your Travel Manager here at Corporate Traveler can be a lifesaver; it can be tough to navigate through the labyrinth of constantly-changing offers and prices alone, but they’re just a phone call away at any time of the day.
3.) Manage Your Time Effectively: Nothing throws off an otherwise well-planned trip like waiting till the last minute. It’s best to do as much as you can as far in advance as possible; booking the first flight of the day, checking in a day ahead (making sure to download or print your boarding pass), and acquainting yourself with TSA procedures and wait times (something where the “Stay Connected” part can also help) can all help shave precious minutes off your travel time, while also making sure that you don’t find yourself hung up on something entirely avoidable.
4.) Be Smart with Your Luggage: Depending on your flight and destination, try to balance your carry-on and checked luggage. If possible, consolidate as much in one bag as you can; not only is it costly to check multiple ones, but longer flights with multiple stops or layovers mean a greater chance of losing your luggage. US travel regulations allow any single checked bag to weigh up to 50 pounds before overweight fees are applied, which is more than enough for most folks. Make sure your carry-on bags are not too big (22” x 14” x 9” being the limit in the US), and consider using colored ties or tags to make your checked bags easier to spot on the carousel.
5.) Don’t Stress Yourself Out: Above all, it’s important to stay calm, especially when dealing with hectic situations at a crowded airport. Allowing yourself to get worked up will only make it more likely that you’ll make further mistakes or even hurt yourself. Getting enough sleep the night before, having a full meal, and relaxing whenever you have a spare moment are all invaluable when the holiday rush turns slows travel to a crawl. And if you can afford a little extra, don’t hesitate to treat yourself either; certain airlines’ VIP lounges allow non-members access for a cover fee.
We can’t guarantee success, of course, but we hope that our advice can help make your travels this holiday season a little merrier.